Searching on the internet for advice on how to best organize your resume sections can leave you with more questions than answers.
First of all, there is no single right way to write your resume.
The fact is, employers and recruiters have varying opinions on what makes a great resume.
Although no two resumes will look exactly the same, there are certain sections that your resume should have if you hope to land the job you're seeking.
So, read on to find out the top five resume sections you can't go without, along with examples.
Section #1: Contact Information
You're probably thinking, “Yeah, no kidding!"
Obviously, this information is vital, and you will place it at the top of your resume.
The only reason we mention it is to remind you to proofread your phone number and email address.
(We wouldn’t bring this up if we haven’t seen them presented incorrectly.)
The last thing you want is to submit 25 or so job applications, along with your resume, and then realize that your contact information is incorrect.
Did someone try to call you back? You'll never know!
So, make sure your email address and phone number are correct.
There are various formats you can use, but this vital section of your resume will look something like the following example:
Notice that the address only lists the city and state. Your street address is not needed on your resume.
(Find out how to list your address when you are updating your resume for a relocation.)
Section #2: Summary (Not Objective)
Some professionals say this resume section is optional, but we beg to differ.
If it's strategically worded, this important section of a resume can be a key factor for the hiring manager to schedule an interview with you!
You might title it a "career summary" or "overview" on your resume.
It’s important that you know the difference between a summary and an objective, which is generally outdated.
- An objective uses "I" language such as, "I am seeking a job in sales."
- A summary focuses on accomplishments and outlines the value you will bring to the position.
Here is a great example of a resume summary section:
(For more on the differences between a summary and an objective, read How To Write A Great Resume Summary Statement.)
Section #3: Areas of Expertise (a.k.a. Skills)
Many wonder whether or not the skills resume section is actually necessary.
Some say you should only use this section for a technical position that needs specialized skills such as software experience.
We challenge that notion.
The truth is, every position has technical requirements, so to speak.
- In this section, you can impressively outline the skills that you have.
- Stick to 6-8 bullet points of three to four words or less.
- Make sure to do some research on the industry “lingo” so that you can use the right keywords to stand out!
There are a couple of ways to create this resume section.
With the example below, you see this section divided into "areas of expertise" and "technical skills."
Depending on the position you are seeking, you might only add an "areas of expertise" section to your resume:
(Check out How To Write A Professional Resume to learn tips and tricks to get your resume in the hand of the employer.)
Section #4: Work Experience
You might also title this resume section "professional experience."
Regardless of what you call it, please make sure you include only relevant experience in this section!
You don’t want the hiring manager to get lost in the noise of your resume and pass you up completely.
(Check out 4 Tips To Write Your Resume Work Experience Section for a more detailed breakdown of the experience section on your resume!)
Section #5: Education
The way you write up this section will vary, depending on whether or not you have work experience.
- If you are a recent graduate with little to no work experience, place your education near the top of your resume.
- If you are a recent graduate with work experience, your education section should be towards the bottom.
- If you are not a recent graduate, your education should always go towards the bottom.
You may consider your education as your greatest accomplishment (and it is a terrific triumph).
Unfortunately, employers care much more about work experience than where or when you went to school.
This resume section is really only to show that you possess a degree.
Don’t get carried away with this section.
Keep it simple, as in the following example:
Now, there are times you might add honors, awards, or other relevant information to your resume.
For instance, you may have impressive awards or community service history.
You also happen to know the prospective job has a lot of competition.
In such a case, you might want to add more details to help your professional resume stand out above the rest:
(Read this article to find out when to take your graduation year off your resume.)
Optional Resume Section: Professional Development
Not everyone will need to create a "Professional Development" section.
However, the job to which you are applying might be one where professional development will give you an added edge.
If so, by all means, add this section.
For instance, if you are applying for an executive position, you want the hiring committee to know you have taken regular steps toward professional development throughout your career.
If you add this to your "Education" section, it would look something like this:
However, you may also want to enhance this section of your resume with plenty of impressive development skills.
In this case, you can make "Professional Development" a section on its own:
(For more tips on what to include in your resume, check out 16 Best Things to Include in a Resume.)
Closing: Get Help Writing Your Resume
As you can see just by the varied examples above, you have many options in creating and formatting your resume.
- Some industries require specific sections.
- Other companies might ask that you do not add a particular section.
So, make sure you do your homework.
If you are unsure where to start, sticking to the above suggestions will definitely help you effectively format your resume.
Perhaps you realize that you need some help writing your resume.
Contact us today and find out how we can help you land your dream job.